August 19, 2014
I've always wanted to get into old time radio, but I can never seem to find the time.
I did however listen to three programs from this page last night, which I will review:
"Music Valley" - Interesting country and western music show. Nice performance of "Silver Bell" (not the Christmas song, but a much older composition). There is also an example of the "That's good/no that's bad" comedy routine. That said there is also a minstrel-type song that is quite dated.
"Movie Matinee" - Insane game show. Lots of now-classic films mentioned. Seems like a fun format, wish there was more of this show. We'll never find out how the final contestants did (they ran out of time).
"Morning Melodies - The Three Suns" - Nice music, but when was it recorded? It cannot be any earlier than 1951, as one of the songs it features the song "Cry". This recording appears to be an excerpt rather than a complete program.
If you don't mind, if I listen to any additional recordings from this page I will add additional brief reviews.
Update #1: I listened last night (actually very early morning) to four additional episodes of this page. Do you mind if I provide additional brief reviews?:
"Maytag Frolics", a music program, is listed as having aired in 1929, and it certainly sounds like that. The dated lyrics of a couple of the songs simply adds to the fun. It's quite enjoyable if you like the music of the unfortunately named Coon Sanders Nighthawks.
"Lives Of Our Greatest Artists" (listed as being from 1940) was sponsored by a "kosher" meat company, and the episode in question provides a brief 15-minute biography of Al Jolson, focusing on his religion. I don't know if the story telling in this episode is accurate or not, but it's interesting to listen to, if decidedly dated (and UN-PC at times). The station ID at the end adds to the fun. There are also two excepts from Jolson's records during the program.
"Leo Diamond Harmonaires - First Song - Three Little Words" - Music program featuring a harmonica group, Notice that the song "I Get a Kick Out of You" features the re-written lyric "perfume from spain" instead of the original cocaine lyric. Nice NBC chimes at the end.
"Leo Diamond Harmoonaires (sic) - First Song - Nobody's Sweetheart" - Same series as above. Nice music, but this particular episode features some ethnic accents which are quite dated and unpleasant. NBC chimes is cut-off though.
Update: Listened to four more episodes last night.
"The Mildred Bailey Show" - Pop music series. Sound quality is slightly squeaky. Some of the music would be called "easy listening" today, but some of it is more lively, and there's even a jazz instrumental. The episode, to my knowledge, aired at 11:30PM. Overall a nice mix of music.
"Maggie's Private Wire" - The cheesy organ music at the start is not encouraging, but this is an interesting show featuring chirpy interviews, one with a actress and the other with a singer. So chirpy, in fact, that it verges on annoying at times. Apart from that, there are promos for films "Bring on the Girls" (1945) and "Wonder Man" (1945), and a commercial for "Super Suds". I believe this series later became a television show on WBZ-TV, though I might be wrong on that.
"The Martha Deane Show" - Women's show with too many ads. There is an interview with two kids from the film "Song of the South" (1946), and interview with a pianist (who is quite obviously nervous). There is also a promo for "Lady Luck" (1946). There is also an interesting moment when, commenting on how the listeners at home couldn't see the kids, the host mentions how they could do with some television....little did they know!
"Hail the Champ" - Stunt game show. Teenagers perform stunts to win prizes. The eventual winner seems overwhelmed at the end. The studio audience is very loud...
Update again! Listened to 4 programs last night, 2 of them good, and the other 2 not so good.
"Minstrel Train" - A variety show, mixing popular songs (like "Stardust") with a comedy routine consisting of a man and three women (the latter, I think, all played by the same person) telling corny jokes. "When does a chair hate you - When it can't bear you". Very corny, the highlight of the program is a song about Brazilian coffee beans. Was this series picked up, or was this the only episode made? To tell the truth, it wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't picked up. (note: sound quality is squeaky)
"Nelson Olmsted Playhouse - Elementals" - A fun dramatic anthology series. In this episode, a man and his fiancé try to go without food for 7 days to try to get $10,000. Will they be able to do it? A little bit over-the-top, but quite enjoyable. Wish there were more episodes of this to listen to!
"Marvelous Margie" - Sitcom with a show business setting. I admit I didn't get some of the pop culture references. The episode had no sponsor, and they reference this humorously at the beginning of the episode. I read elsewhere that this is an audition recording...was this series never picked up? I found it amusing if a bit corny at times.
"Mr Chameleon - The Perfect Maid Murder Case" - Crime drama. Two commercials for Bayer Aspirin and a commercial for Dr. Lyons Tooth Powder. Not well-written, and it features some of the worst attempts at Australian accents I've ever heard...
Update: listened to 6 programs during the night and early morning.
"Memories of Miller" - With Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Appears to be a repeat copy broadcast after his death. Pleasant music.
"Manhattan Playhouse" - Is this recording sped-up or something? Everyone sounds like chipmunks. Funny comedy script though, about a secretary who pretends to be ugly so her employer won't fire her (or something like that). I do hope to listen to more radio comedy soon.
"Lyons Busy" - This recording includes the first half of the program only. Jazz music show with an amusing announcer. There is a commercial for "Surf" (I don't know if, at the time, this was a laundry soap or a detergent). Highlight of the recording is "How High the Moon" being played in different styles. Episode is cut-off abruptly, before they get around to doing a "bop" version of the song.
"Newsreel Digest" - Highlights from the previous week of Mutual newscasts. Stories range from serious to semi-comical. There is also an ad for U.S. savings bonds, and a promo for "Five Star Feature".
"Navy Star Time" - Pop music show. Some crackle during part of the recording. Music is pleasant, but personally I found the performances to be forgettable. Songs include "Stardust". The show, as the title suggests, was sponsored by the U.S. Navy.
"The Morey Amsterdam Show" - Better known today as an early television series. This radio version, based on this episode, was much more of a sitcom than the TV version, in fact the format is very different to the TV version in terms of structure. Highlights include Morey doing his popular "Yuk-a-Puk" number. (sound quality is very squeaky, "under-water" kind of stuff) Wish more existed of this radio show.
Update: Listened to some more shows last night and early morning.
"Midnighters Club - Dick Powell" - A fragment from a show from Pittsburgh. Scratchy sound. Consists of an interesting interview with Dick Powell, which discusses the film "Mrs. Mike" and the radio series "Richard Diamond, Private Detective".
"Little Matchmaker" - With Chico Marx. Am I correct to think this show was never picked up? Bad ethnic stereotypes in this program. Quite embarrassing but funny. Is this incomplete?
"Mostly Dixie - Guest - Matty Matlock" - Exactly what the title suggests, Dixieland jazz music along with some more contemporary jazz. According to the announcer at the end, this was broadcast on Armed Forces Radio.
"Mostly Dixie - Guest - Ray Anthony" - More Dixieland music, along with some more contemporary jazz. Fun version of "Jingle Bells" is featured in this episode.
"Lawless Twenties - The 1928 Saxon Case" - Short drama story about bootleggers, set in the 1920s. Enjoyable but brief.
"Lawless Twenties - The Flood Of Bootleg Gold" - Another edition of the series, set in the 1920s and about bootleggers. Enjoyable but brief.
"Nesco Royal Cooks" - Interesting to hear a syndicated radio show of the early 1930s. There is music by a vocal group, commercials for Nesco kerosene stoves and ranges, and an offer to get a recipe for "Nut and Cheese loaf" by sending in to Nesco.
Update: Listened to 5 programs last night, with me getting varying degrees of enjoyment from them.
Love Tales - Brief but interesting drama about two women, one of which is selfish and the other is love-starved.
"Love Thy Neighbor" - First 15 minutes consists of a 15-minute promo for the film by that title, with lots of comedy and music. The following 15 minutes consists of an unfunny excerpt from "The Jack Benny Show", with lots of painfully dated humor. This is followed by a series of additional excerpts from old radio programs, all related to the mock feud between Jack Benny and Fred Allen. I did not get many of the references in these clips, probably because I'm still new to old time radio.
"Modern Romances" - Interesting wartime story about a woman whose fiancé is missing in action. She meets another man....
"Martha White Biscuit" - Country music program, not sure when it was recorded, but it is from the era before country became pop.
"Martha White Biscuit (3)" - Country music program. The sole remaining commercial in the recording mentions that Martha White flour had been around for 54 years, suggesting this episode is from circa 1953.
Update: listened to four episodes last night, quite enjoyed them.
"Life At Boy's Town - The Bad Day - Pt 1" - Has somewhat scratchy sound. Fun comedy-drama set at the famous "Boy's Town". Three kids pick up a lawn mower, go into a restuarant and....
"Life At Boys Town - Pt 2" - Continuation of the above story. At the end there is a PSA for the rubber/scrap metal drive.
"Lady Go Lucky" - Game-show aimed at the housewives. Ads include ads for Ben Hur coffee, Golden State cottege cheese, Swift Margarine, Lady Lee canned foods, and Betty Lou potato chips. One of the segments include an ordinary woman having to sing in order to win a prize. In another segment, two women say what they don't like about men, and see which gets more audience applause. There is also a quiz show segment. Enjoyable.
"Ladies Be Seated" - Listed here under title "The Listening Post". First-half of episode sponsored by Aunt Jemima, second half sponsored by Toni. There is also a Muffets ad. A game show aimed at the housewives. Enjoyable.
Update: Only listened to 1 program last night as I was very tired.
"Luck of the Irish" - A comedy series about...um...a guy working for a dubious firm which promotes dubious projects. Was this never picked up? I found it amusing, but perhaps the writing is too cynical for it to work as a regular series.
Update: Just finished listening to two programs:
"Louisa" - Wedding Preparation. Fairly amusing, seems to be the first episode. I wonder what happened in the rest of the series. Based on a film, it is a sitcom about a widowed mother who intends to get married again...
"Meet Me In Saint Louis" - The Suffragettes. This was a comedy series based on the same stories as the film of the same name. This program isn't funny in the slightest, but the script is very interesting, and filled with many cultural references to things like the Panama canal.
Update: Listened to an additional program:
"Matinee" - 0453. A music show. Songs include "Volare", so might be late-1950s? There is also a game show segment, but the whole thing seems to be scripted, so I suppose it wasn't meant to be a real game show segment.
Update: listened to two additional programs:
"Matinee" - Listed as episode 454. Not sure when this aired, but probably in the 1950s. It was a music show with songs like "You Are My Sunshine" and "Unchained Melody" (no, that song isn't from the 1960s). It also features some corny humor.
"Nighthawk Rides" - Mortgage Due. Circa 1930s western radio serial, presumably aimed at the kiddies. It left me wondering what would happen next.
EDIT: Listened to two more on 17 August 2014. These were:
"Nighthawk Rides" - Roll Of The Dice. A western serial. Who is the nighthawk? Who is Blackman? Miss Ruby? Really interesting show, wish there was more! Approx 11 minutes.
"Morning Melodies" - Guest: Art Van Damme Quintet. According to the quarter-hour show, this is "modernistic" music. Songs include "How High the Moon", "Say It Isn't So", "Little Brown Jug", and "Dark Eyes". From the Armed Forces radio service thing.
"Listen to Grandma" - Don't know when this was produced. A bunch of "modern" grandmas are given a question or problem, and are expected to give their opinion. So pretty much a panel discussion show.